Knapp 9-15

Several West Virginia rivers provide good fall fishing for muskies.

Outside of the state’s borders, West Virginia might not be thought of as a musky state. But it is, especially when one is considering flowing-water muskies.

The Buckhannon River, Middle Island Creek and the Elk River all have excellent musky fishing, some from stocking, others from naturally reproducing native muskies. Fall is perhaps the best time to enjoy the fine action these waters provide.

The 6-mile Buckhannon Pool’s catch-and-release area has a dense musky population, at least dense as far as musky populations are concerned. When the state DNR conducted its musky-tagging study, it collected muskies, by way of electrofishing, at the rate of one every 12 minutes. Expect to see/catch muskies in the 30- to 35-inch range, though some fish over 40 inches do show up. Propeller-driven boats can be used in this pool, but be sure to watch out for the woody cover that’s prevalent there. The Buckhannon Pool can be access from the city’s Wood Street ramp.

A tributary of the Ohio River, Middle Island Creek has a catch-and-release section and miles of water under standard state regulations. The DNR’s tagging study revealed as dense a musky population in the standard regulations areas as that of the catch-and-release area.

Middle Island Creek flows through Doddridge, Tyler and Pleasants counties. The catch-and-release area is in Tyler County, extending 6 miles upstream from the low-water bridge near The Jug WMA. The best boat ramp is the Blue access, located at the mouth of Indian Creek.

The Elk River, from the Sutton Dam tailrace all the way to its merger with the Kanawha River in Charleston, furnishes musky water that flows through Braxton and Clay counties.

Clay County access sites include Camp Associates sites No. 1 and No. 2, Duck, King Shoals, Mary Chilton Roadside Park, Procious and Queen Shoals. In Braxton County, small boats can be launched at Frametown Bridge and the Sutton Dam tailwaters.

The daily creel limit on muskies is two, with a 30-inch minimum length (28 inches for tiger muskies), though most musky anglers practice catch and release. Such serious musky addicts also carry the proper nets and release tools — pliers, jaw spreaders, hook-out, hook cutters — to safely handle their fish.

In the chilling waters of fall, consider using a rubber musky bait such as the Medussa or Bulldawg, versatile baits that can be worked in a variety of retrieves, speeds and depths.